Project Excellence Tip #3 - The Go-To Project Manager’s Recipe for Success


it’s easy to become the go-to project manager, once you have this recipe

Project success isn’t just luck. Its the result of hard, focused work. Throwing hours at a project isn’t focused work. Focus means planning, executing and monitoring your work.

How it works: your project success recipe

recipe Ingredients

  • A business need; the purpose of the project

  • A general list of requirements of the project

  • A definition of “done,” accepted by your customer, your project sponsor and stakeholders

  • Your communications and leadership skills

  • A project sponsor who will watch your back, shielding you and your team as you conduct the project

  • A project process toolbox, containing a rich assortment of traditional and Agile project management tools

is it traditional or agile? it’s both. It’s hybrid.

Traditional project management processes were executed in a top-down, waterfall method. Top-down works best when there is predictability in your project.

Where there is unpredictability, Agile processes will serve you better. Agile processes were built to handle uncertainty. The most popular Agile process uses progressive elaboration.

  • Constantly-arriving new information changes the direction of the project work. It’s like driving into a fog bank. When you first enter the fog bank, you cannot see your destination. The farther you drive into the fog bank, the better you can see your destination. In project management, you make frequent changes to your project work as you receive constantly-changing information.

Hybrid project management allows you to choose a mix of process tools;

  • Traditional (top-down) processes where there is certainty or predictability

  • Agile processes where there is uncertainty or unpredictability

Let’s apply our tools to our recipe. Note the five process groups of project management.

recipe Directions


  1. Prepare a written Project Charter that describes the Deliverable, the Due Date and the Budget. Make sure it is signed by you, your project sponsor and a company executive.

  2. Build a Stakeholder Register containing each stakeholder’s contact information, influence, interest and expectations.


  1. Develop plans to manage your project’s Scope, Schedule and Cost.

  2. As needed, develop plans to manage your project’s quality, resources, communications, risk factors, procurement practices and stakeholder relations.


  1. Follow the plans you made earlier. Execution is easier, because you took the time to plan.

  2. Use the correct tools from your Process Toolbox to execute the project. From an earlier Tip, you learned there are traditional processes to handle areas of predictability, and Agile processes to handle areas of unpredictability.

Monitoring and Controlling

  1. Compare “planned” with “actual” to detect variances. This applies to Scope, Schedule, Cost and the other factors listed in the Planning section above.

  2. When you find a variance, determine the cause and the cure. Then, complete a Change Request form.

  3. At a meeting of the Change Control Board, evaluate each Change Request and accept or decline it.


  1. Transition your project’s deliverables to the customer, and receive a signed Final Acceptance.

  2. Hold a lessons-learned meeting, and archive the results.

traditional or agile? what did you just create?

Traditional project management processes were executed one after the other, sequentially.

Outcome: Project Excellence

You will have an army of satisfied customers and stakeholders, whose expectations are being met. They will support your project work. 

what's next?

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In case you want to review the previous tips...

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Tip #1 - Successful Projects Have a Structure


Tip #2 - Certification Makes You More Valuable